The Ebb and Flow


Autumn is arriving here in Boston, MA.

Summer is ebbing, and cooler air is flowing into our neighborhood.

In the morning I sit on our back porch, wearing a hoodie until the sun warms everything up.

I listen for sounds from the natural world — today a blue jay — competing with the sounds of cars and buses and trucks and motorcycles on nearby streets.

And I happily remember my time last month camping in North Truro on the Cape and next to Cayuga Lake in upstate New York.

I find camping to be a terrific reminder of many important things — how little water one needs to wash dishes, for example. Or wash one’s hands. Or take a shower.

The campground has cabins with sinks and toilets and showers, but the sinks have taps which automatically shut off after about three seconds — a simple and very effective reminder to use water more mindfully — and the showers are activated by quarters (25 cents for three minutes of hot water).

And in upstate New York I simply jumped — except for the times when my feisty nephew Ryder pushed me — into the lake each morning and then scrubbed with Dr. Bronner’s soap and a washcloth.

We had no radio, no TV, and no internet.

We awoke early — due to birds singing their morning songs — and went to bed early, too.

Sometimes we all sang together after dinner — songs written by the Beatles being the most popular selections.

I wrote new songs for most of each day — happily holed up with my ukulele and laptop computers and rhyming dictionary — and then joined other family members for a swim in the late afternoon.

One of the most powerful part of camping for me is being reminded of the ebb and flow of life.

We see it at the beach.

The waves flow in and out at the water’s edge.

The tide rises and falls, sweeping the ocean shore clean of footprints twice a day — while revealing (and then concealing) sand bars, rocks, shells, crabs, sea weed, drift wood, and tiny jumping sand fleas.

Back at camp, we see neighboring tent sites fill with new arrivals and then empty at the end of the week.

What was a colorful array of tents and coolers and towels and bikes becomes a community of pine trees, a picnic table, some squirrels, and lots of open air.

I find it a very poignant reminder of mortality — my own as well as the mortality of all the people and places and animals and plants I love here on planet earth.

This feeling of mortality seeped into the song I wrote, “Under My Umbrella,” which is embedded at the top of the page.

It seems to fit with the days getting shorter as we approach the autumnal equinox.

Deep breath in.

Deep breathe out.

Thanks for reading…and listening.

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11 thoughts on “The Ebb and Flow

    • There are so many enticing/distracting things in our lives — TV, radio, internet, video games, magazines, cars, motorcycles, motor boats, jet skis, air travel, shopping (demand for which is created by TV, radio, movies, and magazines…) — that it is easy to lose track of that elemental feeling. Maybe meditation can be a tool to bring that elemental feeling back into our daily lives, moment by moment? I breath in. I breath out. My breath flows and ebbs. Thanks for reading and listening and responding. And thank you for YOUR posts. They are often inspiring and are definitely changing my sense of what is unfolding here on planet earth!

  1. What evocative lyrics, bringing smiles of longing for sweet times already rapidly receding…. “apples turn to apple sauce!” The photographs are stunning. Are they Truro skies?

    • Thanks Jinny (and Joni — what a sweet little face) for listening and writing a comment. I cannot take credit for the images. I found them all via the magical interweb. I think the first one is from a UN report on climate change here on planet earth and the other two were taken on outer Cape beaches. I HAVE taken a lot of photos in North Truro over the years, but recently I have been unable to find any of them. Maybe they were on my work computer — and when I transferred my personal files onto thumb drives when I got laid off, I missed that particular folder? Or they are on a thumb drive that I have misplaced? I remain hopeful I will find them and be able to replace these borrowed images with some of my own…

  2. I love this. I love the mention of dear Pesky Ryder. I love the links to Dr. Bronners and the Rice Heritage- I need to learn how to do this with my own blog! I could link to recipes when I get back to cooking more regularly. I also truly enjoyed the song. I listened to it right before bed and now, as I write this, having woken up to get a glass of water, it’s still with me. The Ebb and Flow of Life is a powerful force that guides us all, no matter how far we zoom out, and I can relate to your observation of it at the beach. What a wonderful and incredible thing it can be! Sending lots of love your way- I’ll call you tomorrow and leave a message if you aren’t home.

  3. I love camping — or rather, I used to love camping. These days, my body resents not having a cushy bed. The last time we roughed it (we went way, way into the wilderness, 8 hours northwest of Montreal, in Quebec), on the way home, we stopped at a spa/resort to recover. And my husband, making a play on the New Hampshire state motto, said, “Give me luxury of give me death!”

    Still, we’re planning on going back there. Finding solitude in nature really is restorative for the soul.

    • I would wish that everyone had a chance to interact with nature — from watching/listening to birds in the back yard or park to full-scale, deep woods, wilderness adventures like you still manage to do! Thanks for reading, Tracy!

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